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Jesuit Concepts of Spatium Imaginarium and Thomas Hobbes's Doctrine of Space1

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Thomas Hobbes's doctrine of space is here considered as an example of the Nachzuirkung of Jesuit commentaries on Aristotle's natural philosophy (especially those by Toletus, Pereira, Suarez, Fonseca and the Conimbricenses) in seventeenth-century mechanistic science. Hobbes's doctrine of space can be reconstructed in terms of his intensive dialogue with late scholasticism, as represented in the works of several important Jesuit authors. Although he presents his concept of space as an alternative to the Aristotelian notion of place, there are some remarkable similarities between Hobbes's alternative notion of space and the concept of spatium imaginarium, found in the Jesuit commentaries. While Hobbes adopts many scholastic elements, he employs these to his own purposes. Thus, on the one hand, this article does not so much challenge Hobbes's "modernity", but rather tries to put it in its proper perspective. On the other hand, it tries to show the vitality and importance of Jesuit natural philosophy in non- or even anti-Aristotelian contexts.

Affiliations: 1: University of Utrecht


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